Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Random Recipe Challenge, picked by Lola and Finn - Easy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Croutons

As I enjoyed last month's Random Recipe challenge so much I was looking forward to taking part in the challenge once again. My method for randomness, I decided, would come in the shape of the two children to whom this blog is dedicated. So, Lola selected the book from the shelves...

Lola with her choice. Barefoot Contessa Foolproof
And Finn picked the recipe. (he's 5; he can't read too well just yet - so, totally random)

Finn with the chosen recipe. Easy Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
Now the irony wasn't lost on me that between the pair of them they managed to choose a recipe that neither of them like. Tomato soup has been an abject failure chez Lola and Finn on several previous occasions that I am not going to bother trying again until they are teenagers or something so once I saw the chosen recipe I laughed and immediately decided to half the ingredients and treat Phill and me to a Saturday afternoon lunch. And a treat it was. Unctuous yet sharp, with some pretty amazing croutons. The days of dunking ordinary bread may be over.
Anyway, much as it was a shame that Lola and Finn didn't have this soup for lunch (they had hot dogs and frankly, I don't blame them. If I had have been 5 or 6, that's what I would have chosen) I am very pleased that Lola managed to happen upon this particular cookbook, firstly because it was a Christmas present that I hadn't actually cooked anything from until now, and I knew that the recipe would turn out well because I have never made a Barefoot Contessa recipe that hasn't turned out anything other than brilliant. What else is pleasing is that Lola managed to avoid the Rosemary Conley 'Eat yourself Slim' cookbook, bottom shelf right. I may have to remove this tome of riotous high living and all round excess before next month, to avoid the possibility of having to cook something involving bouillon powder and egg white. Bletch.
Easy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Croutons, from 'Foolproof' by Ina Garten
Serves 4 - 6 (I halved the ingredients below to suit two hungry people)
Ingredients (in cups, for it is an American recipe)
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, (I used tinned cherry tomatoes)
Large pinch of saffron threads
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup orzo
1/2 cup double cream
Grilled Cheese Croutons (see below)
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, saffron, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil.
Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.)

Drain the orzo and add it to the soup.
Stir in the cream, return the soup to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Serve hot with Grilled Cheese Croutons scattered on top.

Grilled Cheese Croutons
4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices country white bread
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Heat a panini grill. (I did mine in the frying pan - my panini maker is buried and I would have wreaked havoc in my newly tidied kitchen trying to unearth the bloody thing).

Place the four slices of bread on a cutting board and brush lightly with the melted butter, being sure to butter the corners.

Turn the slices over and pile Gruyere on two of the slices. Place the remaining two slices of bread on top of the Gruyere, buttered sides up.

Grill the sandwiches on the panini grill (or frying pan, pressing them down with a fish slice and turning them back and forth from time to time) for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned.
Place on a cutting board, allow to rest for 1 minute and cut into 1-inch cubes.

So, here I am, submitting this recipe to the February Random Recipe challenge hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen.



  1. blimey... grilled cheese croutons, now that's what I called proper food!... what an excellent idea... the soup looks incredible and so funny that both Lola and Finn are not fans of tomato soup (I hated it as a kid too... I think that tomatoes are quite acidic..) lovely entry for Random Recipes though and I thank you for the entry x

  2. Hi Stella,

    What a great choice by Lola and Finn! This soup looks wonderful... The grilled cheese croutons are simply YUM!


  3. Come to think of it, I couldn't stand tomato soup as a kid (but then it was out of a can). I'd definitely choose this now.

  4. This looks like amazing soup! I was a confirmed tomato soup hater as a kid. Turns out I just hated tinned tomato soup - love homemade stuff :o)
    I let my daughter choose - then had to veto her first choice, since it was a cake decorating book, and eating fondant flowers for tea wasn't going to happen!

  5. I have the biggest cook-crush on Ina Garten, I want to hijack her breezy lifestyle - recipes like this are mainly the reason why. Looks delicious!


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